Middle East Monitor / August 19, 2020
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the United Arab Emirates an “advanced democracy” in a video he posted on Twitter on Monday, before promptly deleting it upon realising his mistake.
The video Netanyahu posted was an excerpt from his interview with Sky News Arabia, in which he talked about the peace deal and normalisation of ties between Israel and UAE last week. When asked how the deal would serve peace in the region, the Israeli premier said: “Vastly. The deal connects the UAE with Israel; both of them are advanced democracies and their societies are advanced.”
The comment ascribing democratic values to the UAE – a hereditary monarchy in which freedom of speech and expression is routinely suppressed and dissidents are detained – was seen as amusing and wildly inaccurate by many.
The Emirates’ democratic rating is classed as “not free” and it has a score of only 17 out of 100, according to the US research group Freedom House which studies political freedom and democratic levels throughout the world. In regards to the political rights that the Gulf monarchy provides, it scored a mere five out of 40.
Although the UAE holds limited elections for its Federal National Council, political parties are banned and the leaderships of the seven Emirates themselves remain unelected and based on hereditary value. To add to that, all legislative, executive, and judicial authorities are controlled by those leaders who make up the Federal Supreme Council, in which the president and vice president are chosen amongst themselves, after which a prime minister and his cabinet are also chosen.